Redondo Beach Realty: What Home Buyers Want

C.A.R. Buyer Most Wanted List
I was recently looking at a graphic the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) published that was based on a study of "what buyers want". Usually I like and or agree with C.A.R.'s research but in this instance I really had to shake my head and say "Really?". Following are what I find (in no particular order) North Redondo Beach home buyers want.

If you are a Seller, take note. Sometimes you may have to spend some money to "unlock your equity". By that I mean that a $10K investment (yes, I know that is a lot of money) may affect your selling price by $20K or more. Where else can you can a 100% return on your money in a relatively short time? If you are doing improvements to sell, it is important to get advice from a professional as to the best investments to make (if any) in your home).

If you are a Buyer there may be things here that you didn't consider and if some of these items aren't important to you, then you may have a leg up in multiple offer situations because other buyers will value the property less as they look for some of the features I discuss below. While many buyers will find their budget to be tight after making a significant investment, if you can afford to do some of these home improvement projects and have the time and inclination to do so, you may be able to find a property that is, all things considered a "deal". 

Remodeled Kitchen
UPDATED KITCHENS: An updated, contemporary kitchen with nice countertops, stainless steel appliances and attractive cabinets will almost always add to the selling price. You don't necessarily need brand new cabinets. I have seen resurfaced and painted cabinets achieve the same effect as long as they are done tastefully.While granite was the "go-to" countertop for many years, these days Silestone, Quartz, Caeserstone or other materials are often found, even in new construction. Often the new countertops are installed right over the old tile and you would never know. If you are doing a kitchen remodel, make sure that you set off nice countertops with a nice backsplash as well. If you are updating the appliances, by all means go for stainless steel. You don't have to install the most expensive brands but make sure that the appliances are from reputable companies and easily serviced. And definitely get rid of those drop ceilings with the florescent lighting! This is the easiest and least expensive part of the upgrade.

Other factors that buyers consider when looking at a kitchen are the counter space, storage, and layout with "Galley" style kitchens being far less desirable than wider standard kitchens. Some homes in the area have both an eat in area in the kitchen and room for or an actual formal dining room.

Wood Floors enhance the look of any Home
WOOD FLOORS: No surprise here but Buyers really don't want old worn out stained carpets and putting down wood floors that enhance the appearance and look of the home can also add thousands to the selling price. But you have to be careful. Very careful. I can think of a few homes I sold in the last year (representing the buyers) where the investment the seller made on the floor coverings was not well spent at all. One was a "Tall and Skinny" in Golden Hills that had new Bamboo wood floors that were just a horrible choice for that home. The Buyer ripped them out and replaced them immediately after the close of escrow. The other one was also in the Golden Hills and the Seller had replaced the old 80's shag carpet brown shag carpet. Really. So even though the listing said "new carpet", you could have fooled me. My Buyer client will most likely be replacing the "new" carpet with wood floors sometime soon. If you are a homeowner considering installing wood floors before you sell, here's some points to consider. Look at similar homes for sale in the neighborhood and take note of what (if any) floor they have and take your cue from the "best in breed". That often means not going with the lowest cost alternative which can be a waste of money. Avoid Pergo and the least expensive laminates. Bamboo doesn't always bring the best ROI. Look for a reasonably priced "engineered" product which are often found in new construction. Remember that you don't need finished in place hardwood which is often an investment not necessarily recouped.

N Redondo Beach School Boundary Map
SCHOOLS: While each family has their own preference here, homes within the boundaries of Jefferson Elementary have historically sold at a premium. This neighborhood includes part of Golden Hills and part of MLS Area 152 'Villas South". Recently I have also had a number of requests for Birney which has apparently come up quite a bit in the rankings the last few years. Curiously both of the Elementary Schools are south of Artesia Blvd and comprise just about all of MLS Area 154, Golden Hills, and about half of MLS Area 152.

A common misconception is that all of the homes in Golden Hills fall within Jefferson. Not so if you look at the school boundary map pictured here. Another question I hear from buyers is whether their children can go to Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach. I certainly would not recommend buying in Redondo premised on the assumption that your child can go to Mira Costa. While Hermosa Beach families can send their kids to high school in either Redondo or Manhattan, that's not entirely the case in Redondo.

Detached 2 on a lot Townhouse
STANDARD FLOOR PLANS: By a standard floor plan, I mean all the bedrooms upstairs and the living room, dining room and kitchen downstairs.  Alternately all the bedrooms on the same floor, up, down or middle is also desirable. Most standard floorplans are found in 2 on a lot townhomes and single family one level houses. Tall and Skinny SFRs and most 3 on a lot townhomes have reverse floorplans with 2 bedrooms downstairs and the master bedroom, kitchen, dining room, and living room upstairs. There are a few 3 on a lot townhomes with all the bedrooms upstairs and the larger townhouse complexes built in the 7-'s and 80's will most likely have all the bedrooms upstairs (bit not other more modern amenities).

The obvious reason that standard floor plans are highly desirable is that families with small children want them on the same sleeping level as the parents. (I have been surprised, however, by the number of reverse floor plan homes I have sold to young families.) So this is nothing that as a seller you can improve on or fix. Buyers should be aware that they will most likely pay more for a Golden Hills SFR with 3 bedrooms upstairs than they will for the standard 2 down model (all other factors being equal).

HIGH CEILINGS: Whether they are "vaulted" Cathedral, or just high flat ceilings, an open air space and feel is definitely highly desirable. This somewhat flies in the face of the last comment about standard floorplans because the reverse floorplan homes will likely have the high ceilings on the living area. But truthfully there are different buyers for each of these products. I've found that in general, reverse floorplans may appeal more to empty nesters, singles, or owners who have visitors and actually find the bedrooms on different floors to be a benefit.

If you have high natural wood vaulted ceilings, think twice about painting them because many buyers like the natural look. I won't mentioned it as a separate item, but for sellers putting in recessed lighting is often a great investment if you have lower ceilings or high ceilings you want to accentuate.

I bet some of these roofs need replacement!
NEWER ROOFS: Often roof replacements aren't as expensive as buyers may imagine, particularly if a 20 or 30 year roof is installed out of less expensive materials and can be easily installed. But for some reason I've seen buyers over react if the home needs a new roof or there is evidence of a prior leak. Spanish tile and other more expensive roofs can last a very long time if no one walks on them or tiles get cracked (ie from termite fumigation). As a seller, it may well be worth your while to replace the roof if is at the end of life rather than lose a deal or lower your selling price.

FOUR BEDROOMS: Four bedroom homes are selling extremely well these days whether they are attached or detached 2 on a lots or attached 3 on a lot townhomes. Why? More people have home offices, extended family living with them, frequent visitors, and 2 or more children. If anything where the standard used to be 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, now 4 bedrooms is more and more a requirement.

Some 3 bedroom 2 on a lot floorplans have an open extra bonus area on the second level which can serve as a home office. Attached 3 on a lot townhomes with 2 bedrooms upstairs are also in high demand as are older 3 bedroom 2 on a lots that have a formal living room, dining room, eat in kitchen and family room downstairs.

Small Yard
YARD: Yes you can get a small yard without buying a SFR. Most detached 2 on a lot townhomes have rear yards as do many attached units. Rear (C) 3 on a lot townhomes often have rear yards as do almost all tall and skinny SFRs. We're not talking about a yard that you can play catch in, just a small outdoor space large enough for a barbecue, some deck chairs and a few quests. So whether its a good place for your dog to hang out while you are at work or a convenient safe location for a young child to play outside, outdoor enclosed space of any size is desirable.

New Bathroom
You might be surprised that I haven't mentioned bathrooms. For some reason buyers seem to accept original or dated bathrooms more than you might think. As a seller the money is better spent on making tasteful changes to the kitchen and floors.

The other requirement I am hearing this year, and this is why location is so important, is a nice block. Grant is often a tough sell because it is perceived as being a noisy main street. Busy north-south streets such as Rindge can be difficult resales. There has been push back which I believe is based on old assumptions about being too far "east". Truthfully some of the most expensive properties have sold in the 2400 block and higher of MLS Area 152. Being next to apartments and other multi unit rentals is

So, what do North Redondo Beach buyers really want?

A home with an updated kitchen, wood floors, newer roof, 4 bedrooms, a small yard, bedrooms on the same floor, curb appeal  and near a desirable elementary school. And most importantly a good deal.